Career change Business to Programming, advice where to start?

Hi All,
After going back and forth, I have finally made up my mind that I want to make a career change from business to computer programming (though I am not ruling out something like a DBA either). Though I have very little programming experience, in the past in my free time at my current job, I naturally found myself developing excel programs using basic VBA to automate tedious tasks that normally took a very long time. I find myself trying to get my "normal" work done as fast as I can so I can start working on my applications, that's when I really get in a flow, and I love it. And in general, I just prefer to work on computers rather than talking to lots of people all day as I do now. So, that said, my experience has been only in business for the past 3.5 years, after I graduated with an undergrad degree in Marketing.

One of my questions then is - what do people think would be the most efficient/effective path to follow to get into programming as soon as possible? I have been considering getting an associates degree in computer science at a community college, but is this worth it? I know many job ads demand a bachelors degree in computer science, but is this really to show someone learned about computers, or that they made a commitment to school? If it's the commitment part, is my bachelors in business good enough if I learn programming on my own time and try to find an internship and/or write apps for free to put on my resume? Or would an associates degree actually put my resume higher up on the list because I had some kind of formal training? Also, I'm no dummy, but is it feasible to learn a language all on my own with help from google? I'm torn between what would be the best path to follow. Additionally, I don't have a lot of money and I would be living off of my wife's paycheck and would get a part time job while I train myself either formally or on my own. So getting it done quick is important to me. Additionally, I hate my job more than anything so I want to get out as soon as possible, so I wouldn't want to go to night school or anything like that.

Second - based on my background, what would people recommend I learn in terms of programming languages? As I wouldn't want to commit to a bachelors in computer science, and I know the competition is high, I don't imagine I would be interested in working for a big company. With that in mind - are there certain languages that with a basic education (formal associates or self taught) I could more easily break into the programming world? For example should I stay away from .Net or Java? A friend of mine has been using PHP after he got a 2 technical degree after high school, and has a good job. What would people recommend would be marketable languages I should consider learning in order to most easily break into programming, especially if I would be at smaller companies?

Also, are there other somewhat related entry level computer jobs I could get into that are easier to break into? For example, are there entry level DBA jobs?

Thanks for any input, I really appreciate it! I'm at a crossroads in my life and want to get this figured out so I can move on with my life and start a family, and not be stuck in my current career.


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